This study investigates the Agrippesioi and Augustesioi synagogues of ancient Rome. Known from inscriptions found primarily in the Monteverde Catacombs, the synagogues are conventionally dated to the first century CE. Common opinion is that they were named directly after Marcus Agrippa and the emperor Augustus, both of whom, it is thought, played some part in founding the synagogues. Based on the chronology of the catacombs and the inscriptions, I assign the synagogues to the third and fourth centuries. Taking into account the linguistic and epigraphic comparanda of that period, I argue that the synagogue names were toponyms. They signaled where in Rome the Jewish synagogues were. The analysis has further implications for the history and social setting of Roman Jews. Like other groups at the time, they were identifying themselves based on areas or features in the late antique urban landscape that had been associated with Agrippa and Augustus for centuries.
This article examines Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 of the book of Judith from the perspective of the guidelines on speech-in-character found in Aelius Theon’s Progymnasmata (mid/end of the first century CE). According to the guidelines, it is important for an author of prose to achieve correspondence between the literary persona and the actual speech-in-character. This article examines the extent to which Judith’s prayer in chapter 9 observes Theon’s guidelines, as well as the theological implications of this.
Josephus offers one of our most extensive sources for the study of ancient Judaism, and his treatment of the Samaritans is no exception. In this article, I synchronize attention to Josephus’ representations of Samaritans with the turn in Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies towards the contestation of ancient “Israel” throughout antiquity. First, I argue that we see more clearly how Josephus actively constructs Samaritan identity by comparison to shared contestation of Israelite genealogy and geography in the Martyrdom of Isaiah, 4 Baruch, Pseudo-Philo, and Megillat Taʿanit. Second, I suggest that such an approach develops an alternative way to write ancient Jewish history with Josephus, incorporating his work into discussions of ancient Jewish self-representation beyond the choice between historical reality check or self-sustaining rhetoric.
The demise and disappearance of religions are processes rarely analysed or
theorised in depth in the study of religions. This article engages the
discussion of how religious traditions disappear by focusing on religious demise
as an active process and suggests that this can also teach us about religious
persistence. Using memory and emotion perspectives, I focus on processes of
religious change in Judaism in the Persian-Hellenistic era by analysing a case
study from the Hebrew Bible that involves an active dismantling of previous
religious practices and their replacement with a new programme for religious
devotion: the narrative of 2 Kgs 22-23. I argue that the new total devotion
programme involves the active erasure of previous religious practices as a key
part of the new identity. On the basis of the analyses, I discuss religious
changes in Second Temple Judaism and suggest a novel reframing of some of the
key changes in terms of memory, media, and emotions.